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Henry II. City and its Territories. The Goods of Meffieurs 1559. Couraut and Conftantine were forfeited to the Pope Paul IV. King, and Mr. Monjaut was to pay a Fine of two hundred Livres to the King, befides the charges.
The Sentence was executed in all its points; and the Conftancy of the two Martyrs produced fuch good effects, that fome of their Judges became zealous Promoters and Defenders of that Faith, for which they had condemned thefe innocent Perfons; amongst whom, was Mr. Claudius Dangliers, Lieutenant-General of la Rochelle.
This relation fhews, that there was fome Reformed in that famous City, and a publick Teacher amongst them four years before M. de Clermont preached in that place, fince M. Couraut fuffered for it; but we have no further Account of them nor of their Meeting, till the year 1557, when Mr. Clermont came amongst them. The next year 1558, M. Richer, Lord de l'Ifle, came into that City, and fettled the Church in a better Form than it had been before; for which reafon M. de la Popeliniere, a famous Hiftorian, gives him the Title of Father of the Church of la Rochelle.
The King and Queen of Navarr, going to Court this year, they took their way through that City, where they were fplendidly received and entertained; they had with them Mr. David above-mentioned, he preached in publick, by their Order, in all the places where they paffed: he preached likewife at La Rochelle the pure Word of God, which promoted much the Reformation in that City; to which we must add a very odd thing which happened there during their Majesties ftay, in their Prefence and under their Protection, which is as follows:
A Company of Comedians arrived in that Henry II. City; one day they gave notice by the publick Pope Crier, that they had a piece of great importance Paul IV. to act that day.
The King and Queen with all their Court came to be prefent, and there was a crowded Audience of all forts of People. They reprefented a fick Woman at the point of death, fhrieking and begging carneftly to be confeffed.
The Parish Prieft was fent for; he came, in all his Apparels, and did what he could; but the fick Woman was always in a Tofs, crying, that fhe was not well confeffed.
Some other Ecclefiafticks came, who fucceeded no better than the Parish Prieft. After them came fome Fryars of different Orders, and fpared nothing to relieve her; Beads, Reliques, Indulgences, of which they had their Bags full, and which they did read one after another to the fick, all was put in ufe, but to no purpose. At laft they put on her St. Francis's Habit, as their laft remedy; but the Woman found no relief nor reft in her Confcience, and faid, bemoaning her fad Condition, that thofe People underftcod not how to confefs aright. At which, fome body of her Acquaintance came to her upon the Stage, and lurking every where, as if he was afraid to be heard, he whispered to her, that he knew a Man, who would confefs her right, and put her Confcience in a State of Peace, and Tranquillity; but that that Man went abroad only in the Nighttime, because the Day-light was noxious to him. The Woman earnestly defired her Friend to call for that Man; he came in a Lay-drefs, and drawing near the Bolfter, he spoke to the Woman without being heard by the Company, but they obferved by her Geftures, that he was mighty well pleafed. At laft he took a small Book L+
Henry II. out of his Pocket and faid aloud unto her, This 1559. Book contains the most infallible receipts for the Pope Paul IV. cure of your difeafes; if you will make use of them, you fhall recover your health perfectly well in a few days. Then he went off the Stage, and the fick Woman got out of her Bed chearful, being perfectly cured; and having walked two or three times upon the Stage, fhe told the Audience, That that Man, unknown, had wrought what had been impoffible to the former, who had vifited her; and fhe was obliged to confefs, that his Book was full of excellent receipts, as they might fee by the happy Change that had happened in her; that if any of them was afflicted with the fame Difeafe, fhe advised them to confult the Book, which he would readily lend them; forewarning them however, that they would find it fomething hot in handling, and a noifome feent would come out of it, like that of a Faggot; that for the reft, if the Audience defired to know her Name, and the Book's Name, they were two Riddles which they might guefs at.
The King and Queen of Navarr were pleafed to exprefs their fatisfaction, the whole Court followed their Example, and a great number of Auditors did the fame; many of whom, difliked already the Roman Religion.
They underflood perfectly well, that the fick Woman was Truth; that the firft who could not confefs her right, were thofe who took upon them the Character of Doctors and Paftors, and who, inftead of wholefome Directions, adminiftred nothing but what can ferve only for an Amusement to Babies: That the laft Comer was one of those Pretended Hereticks, whom the feverity of the Times obliged to conceal themfelves, and who alone did rightly confefs, when they were called, for. Laftly, that the hot Book which smelt of
the Faggot, was the Holy Bible, forbidden to be Henry II. kept at home, and to be read in the vulgar 1559. Tongue, under pain of Fire.
Pope Paul IV.
But what pleased much to fome, difpleafed as much to others; particularly the Ecclefiafticks were greatly offended at it. They made their Complaints to the King of Navarr, then to the Magiftrates, and made fuch a noife, that the Comedians were obliged to leave the City fuddenly and fecretly; they would have been dealt with in a much feverer manner, had it not been for the King and Queen, to whom that Company belonged (c).
I hope that this Digreffion will not be unpleafing to the Reader, fince it is a fubject, the confequence of which was the Converfion of many of the Inhabitants, and the increafe of the Reformed Church of that City; which was fuch, that the 17th of November 1558, they elected eight Perfons, who, with the Minifter made up the Veftry: Mr. Fayet had fucceeded to Mr. Richer, and in December of the faid year they joined four other Elders to the eight elected before; they had no fixed place for their Affembly, but they met together fometimes in one, fometimes in another place, and that in the nighttime, for fear of being difcovered, which was likewife obferved by all the Churches throughout the Kingdom.
The Fire of the Perfecution raging in the Provinces of Xaintonge, Aunis, and other adjacent Places, the Reformed of la Rochelle came to this refolution, related by Mr. de Beze in his Hiftory of the Reformed Churches of France. They conceived, that the King of France confented to the fierce Perfecution which was carried on against them, only because he was not thoroughly acquainted with their real Sentiments concerning
(c) Vincent, Recherches fur les commencemers de la Ref. a la Rochelle.
Henry II. Religion; upon this fuppofition they agreed to defire their Minifters to draw up a Confeffion of Paul IV. Faith, extracted out of the pure Word of God, in order to be prefented to the King, being fubscribed by all with a Declaration to his Majefty, that they were ready to fign it with their Blood, and to facrifice their Lives altogether for fo juft a Cause, rather than to fee themselves perfecuted, and put to death one after another, upon falfe and calumnious imputations, fuch as thofe for which they were condemned every day. That refolution being took, they sent the Ministers of la Rochelle, of St. John d'Angely, of Saintes, and of Marennes, as their Deputies to the King of Navarr, to acquaint his Majefty with their defign, and require his Approbation and Pro-1
But that Prince being not of the fame Opinion with them, exhorted them, to wait patiently for a better Seafon, fo their deliberation was put off to a better time. But the first General Synod of the Reformed Churches in France meeting a few Months after at Paris, as abovefaid, when the Minifters of St. John d'Angely and Marennes were deputed for the Churches of thefe Provinces, the Confeffion of Faith, and the Articles of Discipline were drawn up there, and prefented two years after to King Charles IX.
The Church of la Rochelle makes fuch a great and glorious Figure in our Hiftory, and the Members of it have diftinguished themselves by fuch a brave Defence of their civil Privileges, and fuch an uncommon, pure and fincere Žeal for their Religious Rights, and fuch an extenfive Charity towards their Brethren; being always ready to open their City, their Houfes, their Bofoms to the poor afflicted, perfecuted, and to afford them fuch Comforts and Relief as they